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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2020
    Location
    Fairfax, VA
    Posts
    1

    Default Excessive Sanctions

    My question involves education law in the State of VA

    I took a course this summer with my friend in different sections, we both were struggling, and I tried to help him with one of the assignments that only worth 0.625% of the entire course. My friend happened to copy part of my work with exact words, but the answers were all wrong. The problem is the professor found out the cheating and insisted on giving me a 20% course grade reduction, which is, to my understanding, inappropriate. I tried to appeal with the Honor Code Committee from my school, but they told me only the professor could decide the sanctions. I tried to contact the professor through the committee regarding the sanctions but only got the same results. I agreed to all other sanctions, including zero for the assignment and attending an academic seminar. My question is, is there any legal action I can take to drop the 20% grade reduction. I understand this is all my fault but I don’t think I deserve the failing grade.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Posts
    2,678

    Default Re: Excessive Sanctions

    No. This is entirely between you and the school.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Posts
    8,199

    Default Re: Excessive Sanctions

    Quote Quoting NothingMore
    View Post
    My question is, is there any legal action I can take to drop the 20% grade reduction.
    Maybe, but it's pretty hard to make out a good legal challenge to a grading or misconduct decision by a college/university. Some explanation of the law might help you understand the hurdles you have on this issue. When it comes to purely grading matters (i.e. how well the student did in meeting the academic requirements of the course), the courts generally take the view that decisions on on grading are best left to the experts on the subject rather than judges, who are not equipped to decide matters of academic performance.

    Here, though, the grade decision is not one simply deciding on how well you did in the course. The decision is a sanction for aiding in alleged cheating. How the law deals with that depends on whether your college/university is privately owned or is a government owned institution (e.g. military academy, state university, city owned community college, etc).

    If it is privately owned the decision on sanctions for misconduct are entirely up to the school so long as the school follows whatever terms address that in the contract with the student. Contracts with private colleges/universities generally don't restrict the college/university much, if at all, in terms of what it does for misconduct. The main thing a private college or university must do is make sure that the way in which it applies its sanctions for misconduct will not result in illegal discrimination (i.e. treating students differently because of race, sex, etc).

    A government owned institution, however, must also provides the student with procedural and substantive due process in deciding cases of student misconduct. For procedural due process, the school must provide some way for the student to appeal the decision to some neutral party — like an honor code committee — and provide the student the opportunity in that appeal to provide his/her side of the matter. The appeal process does not have match the kind of process you would get in court. So if your college is a state school, then perhaps you have a claim to pursue since you were not given a chance to appeal to the honor code committee or anyone else.

    For a substantive due process violation, the standard is hard to meet. Under the standard set out in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which is the federal appeals court that covers Virginia, the standard is explained this way:

    The complaint, read in light of the Handbook, does not plausibly allege that the decision to award Kerr a grade of “No Credit” was arbitrary and capricious, much less that it “shock[ed] the conscience,” as would be required to state a claim for a violation of Kerr’s substantive due process rights.

    Kerr v. Marshall Univ. Bd. of Governors, 824 F.3d 62, 81 (4th Cir. 2016). Thus, you'd have to show that the decision was arbitrary and capricious and that the decision is one that would "shock the conscience" of the court. Nothing in your post so far suggests that this was the case.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2020
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Excessive Sanctions

    Thank you for such a valuable information. I've been looking for a solution to this problem for a long time and I finally found one. Really appreciate your reply!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Posts
    468

    Default Re: Excessive Sanctions

    Quote Quoting EndyMars
    View Post
    Thank you for such a valuable information. I've been looking for a solution to this problem for a long time and I finally found one. Really appreciate your reply!
    Reported as spam-seeding.

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